Linda Muriel ex Incognito is still around  

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by Jennifer Valentine-Miller

Acid Jazz originated in the London Club scene in the mid-1980s. Two of the major acts during that time were the Brand New Heavies and Incognito.

The lead vocalist for both of these bands was the effervescent Linda Muriel.  “To be precise”, said Linda, with her large smile and perfect teeth, “I was in Galliano (1984), Plan B (1985), the Heavies (1987-1989) and then Incognito (1990).

My extensive research informed me that the demise of Acid jazz scene was around the late 1990s. Or was it before that for Linda? “It wasn’t demise, it just went underground. Acid Jazz is still with us today.”

There was a bleak period when Linda spent some time in hospital due to a suspected brain tumor – “yes, that period was in 1986, I was constantly getting headaches in the dressing room. What a dreadful time.”  Plus there were the artistic differences she had to contend with in-between bands.  Linda raises her eyebrows, “Which band?” she asked. “I guess that must be the Brand New Heavies. I was very happy until they felt threatened, because I was getting most of the attention.” Linda thought it was best to set the record straight by highlighting matters, “my problem was I came back to work after two months instead of the nine”.

“After losing my voice I should have taken more time out.” This was recommended by the hospital.

I conducted my interview on a cold and murky November afternoon at Linda’s home which is a large London property, a bit too big for Linda – “it was the family home. Mum and dad decided to immigrate to the Caribbean, so I bought it off them. My sisters pop round from time to time”

Today Linda is very much alive and kicking and singing better than ever with her new band Afrosymphony. Linda adds rather swiftly that “Afrosymphony is a concept, and at present it consists of David Shafe and I”.

“My definition of Afrosymphony is on the basis that every music has soul. We infuse all different types of music with soul.”

For Linda, Afrosymphony means being lead vocalist, writer, Roadie, events co-coordinator and manager!  I asked her who came up with the name Afrosymphony. She decided to play one of her Jazz recordings, after that she replied, “I did” – “My definition of Afrosymphony is on the basis that every music has soul. We infuse all different types of music with soul.”

In photo shoots and front covers Linda’s hairstyles look amazing. In fact within all her photos throughout the height of her career her hair design was her best feature. I asked Linda whether she had a personal hair stylist during that time. “Yes, I did during the Incognito days. However the photographer, who brought out my best features, was Simon Fowler. I styled my own hair for the Blues and Soul front cover shoot.”

This year Linda and Afrosymphony were regular guest artists in Notting Hill taking part in Club-SkaVille.  What was it like working with the legendary Ray Carless? “It was more of a solo thing” Linda replied. “However David did join me when we did the Mothers Day event in March”

In general mental health is everywhere, especially in the entertainment business.

The Guardian and Observer’s Christmas appeal theme for 2014 is one of the most common and under acknowledged health issues: mental health.  Linda commented by saying, “I used to be a member of the charity MIND. In general mental health is everywhere, especially in the entertainment business. What you last said and what you wore is always in the public’s eye 24/7. The Robin Williams’ incident still affects me.”

There are a lot of Pings on the Linda’s social media network page showing her jamming with different bands – are there any projects in the pipeline for Afrosymphony in 2015?

“Yes, the long awaited album will be out next year”, Linda said. “The setback has been the musicians”.

Will it be church or family this Christmas? “Not sure, possibly both”

What will your favourite recipe be over the festive season? “My specialty is stuffing made with beef sausage and tuna stuffing for vegetarians.”

On a serious note how does Linda view herself and does she have anything inspirational to say to the younger generation?  “I am a singer, songwriter, and producer. My goal is to revive my songs.  My advice to young people is to learn a skill, know the business and the pitfalls. Learn to play an instrument. And learn to drive a car!”

Linda Muriel’s latest co-written track (Soul Personified) can be found on the album
“The Personification of Soul”
by ButterflyJazzRecords.

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